Communal hatred online, al-Qaeda links land Indian software engineer in NIA custody

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An Indian software engineer in his late 20s has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for links to the terrorist group al-Qaeda.

Mohammed Arif was arrested from his home in the South Indian state of Bangalore where he was working for a private firm, the Times of India reported.

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The Internal Security Division (ISD) arrested him based on a tip-off and in coordination with central security agencies.

He has been moved to police custody after appearing in the local court, the same report said. He reportedly lives with his wife and two kids and is known to work from home.

Arif reportedly had plans to visit Afghanistan and Iran to join ISIS in March this year.

Originally from Uttar Pradesh, the engineer moved to Bangalore seven years ago and has on numerous occasions engaged in “various online discussions encouraging terrorist activities,” TOI reported.

Last month, a counter terrorism court in India sentenced an ISIS-inspired man from Kerala to prison for seven years.

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court made the ruling in the city of Cochin. It followed an investigation that revealed that Mohammad Polakanni was part of a group that sought to carry out attacks in the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The investigation established that Polakanni was inspired by ISIS ideologies while abroad and “actively conspired over social media, to conduct terrorist attacks in South India,” a statement from the NIA said.

India has tightened its anti-terrorism measures after the November 26 attacks in Mumbai left 175 people dead. They were carried out by 10 members of the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba group over four days.

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